Jump to content

Disclaimer

Photo

Should I get a copyright on my story before I send in my query?


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 ittybittybat

ittybittybat

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:None.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 12:46 PM

I finished my novel and my query months ago, but I've been afraid to send it because I don't want anyone to steal my idea...so I considered getting a copyright. I'm sure the agents wouldn't do that, but I worked so hard on my story and I would be devastated if that happened.

So should I get a copyright on it or not?

#2 Cat Woods

Cat Woods

    Juvenile Junky and Clairvoyant Ninja

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,155 posts
  • Literary Status:published, in-between agents
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:As Cat Woods: adult short stories in SPRING FEVERS, THE FALL and SUMMER'S EDGE (June 2013). 2014 MG novel ABIGAIL BINDLE AND THE SLAM BOOK SCAM.

    As A.T.O'Connor: short stories in THE FALL and SUMMER'S EDGE. Fall 2013 YA novel WHISPERING MINDS.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:14 PM

While I can understand where your fear comes from--we pour our heart and soul, sweat and tears into our projects--you honestly don't need to worry as long as you submit your mansucript to repsectable agents and editors.

Not to mention that your work is copyrighted the moment it makes its way from your fingertips to the keyboard.

If you're concerned about which agents you should trust, a great starting point it the AgentQuery data base (http://www.agentquery.com/) followed up by a careful perusal of Preditors and Editors (http://pred-ed.com/).

Best luck!

Cat Woods
Juvenile Junction Group Moderator


Words from the Woods~ Blog for Cat Woods
From the Write Angle~ Group Blog

Whispering Minds~ Blog for A.T. O'Connor

 

SpringFeversthumb.jpg   thefall_front_cover.jpg


#3 RC Lewis

RC Lewis

    OCD for the Good of Mankind

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,332 posts
  • Literary Status:agented
  • LocationUS Southwest
  • Publishing Experience:STITCHING SNOW will be published by Hyperion on October 14, 2014.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:29 PM

Cat, I think you meant http://agentquery.com for the AQ database (as opposed to our lovely AQC networking area here). :blush:

And I second everything she said. There's really no need, your future publisher will file a new copyright anyway, and I've heard agents and editors say that it gives them a feeling of "newbie who hasn't done their homework" when a writer files copyright before submitting.
Stitching+Snow+Cover+Final+SMALL.jpg 
Stitching Snow
October 2014
Hyperion

#4 Cloe

Cloe

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 146 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Southwest

Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:59 PM

I have my copyright on my manuscript. It's not quite as cool looking as a patent (have that too) but it'll do. :cool:

If it gives you peace of mind, then do it. It only cost $35.00, and could give you a better nights sleep.

As far as the newbie thing, I couldn't care less. I prefer taking the safe route. Yes, your manuscript is protected as soon as you write it, but it's far easier to prove in a court of law when you have its copyright (you submit your entire manuscript to the copyright office and even your pseudo :smile: ).

#5 ittybittybat

ittybittybat

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:None.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 02:26 PM

Thanks for the advice, everyone!

Wait, how is it protected the moment you type it?

#6 Tessa

Tessa

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 374 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 07 October 2011 - 02:34 PM

Thanks for the advice, everyone!

Wait, how is it protected the moment you type it?


As I understand, it should be protected simply because you created it. You might have trouble proving that you did it first, though. I've heard a suggestion to email the document to yourself - you can then prove that you had it completed at the time of that email. Certainly don't waste money on this.

#7 ittybittybat

ittybittybat

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:None.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 02:41 PM

Oh, thanks. :)

#8 Cloe

Cloe

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 146 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Southwest

Posted 07 October 2011 - 02:45 PM

Wait, how is it protected the moment you type it?


It's your material according to the laws of the United States, but you have to prove it. So, it's protected the moment you type it.

I wouldn't suggest that you mail it to yourself. It'll probably cost you near the $35 and it doesn't assure much as mail can be tampered with. The copyright office keeps your manuscript on record. It also has far more power to put: "copyright" then, "watch out buddy, I mailed this to myself!". :smile:

#9 Kalinda Knight

Kalinda Knight

    Veteran

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 156 posts
  • Literary Status:published
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Newspaper journalist. Author of THINGS NOT SEEN, a romantic suspense. Available on Amazon. http://amzn.to/1sLwvz6

Posted 07 October 2011 - 03:35 PM

Hi, Ittybittybat and welcome to AQC. Yes, RC and Cat are correct. Your work is copyrighted as soon as you write it. However, I agree with Cloe. I have copyrighted through the official copyright.gov site. It is, indeed, only $35. I sleep better. I also know I send my work out to beta readers and agents I have never met. Tell me where it is written that everybody who works for so-and-so literary agency is 100% honest and, under the right circumstances, would still never resort to a little dishonesty. No such guarantees exist.

Can you PROVE your copyright when you didn't do it "officially"? Most likely. That all goes to WHEN you put it in the computer. Did you save old copies? I haven't saved the older copies of my work. I write new versions on top of the old. I've also had computers burned by power surges, etc. If I had to rely on bringing in people that could vouch for me that they read it back when, I'd have problems producing some of them because they are friends from the internet. I don't really know real names or where they live, necessarily. Could I find out and then subpoena them to appear, if necessary? Yes, I could - for a lot more money. Do I need to be concerned about any of that if I "officially" copyright it? No. I do not. For $35 I have totally ended any question whatsoever. I have proof positive that will hold up in any court.

When you open any book and turn to the copyright page, you'll see the author's name (maybe their real name, if they write under a pen name). You do NOT see the name of the publisher there. The only time the publisher's name will appear there is if it was a work for hire. That means that the publisher outright hired you for a set dollar figure to write the book. You would not get an advance, nor would you get any royalties. You get only the money you agreed to accept in exchange for your work. All rights belong to the publisher forever. In that case, the publisher's name would appear as the owner of the copyright. When the publisher copyrights material for the themselves or the author, it's because it has not already "officially" been done.

If publishers were 100% convinced that they (or the author) were totally theft proof, why would they bother to copyright it at all? What if there is an agent or editor out there somewhere who thinks that me protecting my own work, by "officially" copyrighting it, says that I'm a newbie? Why would it bother them? It is no skin off their nose. If they are bothered by it, it would send up a red flag for me. I don't sign contracts without reading them either. So, if that agent or editor ever hands me a contract and tells me, "Hey, this is just standard, go ahead and sign," I'll still be reading it closely. And he still might think I'm a newbie because it's all old hat to him. And I still won't care what he thinks.

#10 Cat Woods

Cat Woods

    Juvenile Junky and Clairvoyant Ninja

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,155 posts
  • Literary Status:published, in-between agents
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:As Cat Woods: adult short stories in SPRING FEVERS, THE FALL and SUMMER'S EDGE (June 2013). 2014 MG novel ABIGAIL BINDLE AND THE SLAM BOOK SCAM.

    As A.T.O'Connor: short stories in THE FALL and SUMMER'S EDGE. Fall 2013 YA novel WHISPERING MINDS.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 04:30 PM

Well, you need to do what you feel is right for yourself.

I've never copyrited anything, but that seems to work for me. I did my research and wasn't concerned that the agents I submitted to would pawn off my writing as their own. Of course, there's always the exception, but I think it's so minimal with reputable agents that I still sleep pretty easy each night. :smile:


Best luck as you start the submission process.

Cat Woods
Juvenile Junction Group Moderator


Words from the Woods~ Blog for Cat Woods
From the Write Angle~ Group Blog

Whispering Minds~ Blog for A.T. O'Connor

 

SpringFeversthumb.jpg   thefall_front_cover.jpg


#11 M. Arthur Stone

M. Arthur Stone

    Aspiring for Ignorance

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 589 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, agented
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:Officially on submission with first book as of May 15, 2013!
    Doing 2nd round of edits on 2nd book.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 06:32 PM

I'll chime in with my opinion...

Copywrite is worth the $35 for peace of mind and there is no harm.

What you DON'T want to do is tell agents or publishers that it's copywrited, or submit a partial or the full with a bic 'c' in a circle on the title page, otherwise...NEWBIE alert!
"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters." - James A. Michener

#12 mwsinclair

mwsinclair

    Elephant with a trunk full of novels

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,990 posts
  • Literary Status:published, unagented, media
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Journalist covering U.S. nonprofits, foundations, and life in general. President and Chief Elephant Officer of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC, and publisher of Spring Fevers, an anthology of short stories, 2012, which includes sixteen stories by ten AQC writers, and The Fall, a collection of tales from the apocalypse. Ironically, The Fall was delayed by the apocalyptic Hurricane Sandy. Published Summer's Edge and Summer's Double Edge in July 2013 and Winter's Regret in January 2014. Our first novel, Whispering Minds by A.T. O'Connor, was published in November 2013, and our second, Battery Brothers, in time for baseball's opening day, 2014. We're getting Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by RS Mellette ready for publication on Dec. 1, 2014.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 09:03 PM

For what it's worth, there is absolutely no chance your novel as it currently sits will be the same when it's ready to be published, so you'd be wasting your money. Use it to buy a tank of gas. That's not to cast an aspursions against your writing. It's just that Shakespeare would have edits at this stage. Don't waste your money.

#13 Pete Morin

Pete Morin

    Nut Cracker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,469 posts
  • Literary Status:agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Some shorts published in obscure anthologies.
    Diary of a Small Fish, a first little piggy heading to market.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 09:35 PM

It's not quite as cool looking as a patent (have that too) but it'll do. :cool:


What in the world did you patent?

I agree with Matt. Save your money until it really counts.


FWIW, I've done copyright and trademark litigation for 15 years, and I didn't copyright my manuscript until the moment I published it on Amazon. Take what you want from that!
Pete

Posted Image

Read Diary of a Small Fish
Read Uneasy Living

Blog - Pete Morin
Join me on Facebook

#14 Petal65

Petal65

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 565 posts
  • Literary Status:published, agented
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:feature film and novelisation credits, tv credits, middle grade novel, verse novel

Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:28 PM

My two cents:

I was just thinking about this today. The thing is, most ideas aren't really worth copyrighting. It's true that sometimes a book comes out and I think "why didn't I think of that?" but most books are just obvious retellings of existing stories. I don't know your idea, so I can't be sure.

But here's the thing. It's much cheaper for a publisher to buy your idea from YOU than to steal your idea and rewrite it themselves or hire someone to rewrite it. You're a beginner. You're cheap.

Your WRITING is copyright. Your IDEA? Well...some ideas are hard to copyright. Because they're obvious, or general, or not very original. Be a good WRITER.

Not very helpful, I know. My advice would be to get another great idea, then send this first one out into the world.
READ MY BLOGS: www.angelhorn.com www.versenovels.com

Read WICKET SEASON, from Lorimer Books, March 2012
Add AUDACIOUS to you Goodreads Shelves. Coming from Orca Books, Fall 2013

"The highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may." (John F. Kennedy)

#15 E.B. Black

E.B. Black

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,134 posts
  • Literary Status:published
  • LocationUS Southwest
  • Publishing Experience:Self-published my debut novel, Medusa's Desire.

Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:57 PM

I'm experiencing this same problem. I don't trust myself to for sure never let it get in the hands of someone disresputable, but at the same time don't want to be pegged as a newbie, so I have no idea what to do and am very frustrated trying to figure out if I should copyright it or not.

Visit my web-site for links to my twitter, blog, facebook, and a way to e-mail me: http://www.ebblack.com/
 

Want a FREE novel? Love ROMANCE and GREEK MYTHOLOGY? Then download Pandora's Mistake on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

2urtog3.jpg


#16 Pete Morin

Pete Morin

    Nut Cracker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,469 posts
  • Literary Status:agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Some shorts published in obscure anthologies.
    Diary of a Small Fish, a first little piggy heading to market.

Posted 26 October 2011 - 10:57 PM

It's really pretty easy.

You have a finished manuscript, you can copyright it or not. Pay the $35, fill out the form, attach the file. Boom, you're done. Or, do nothing.

The only important thing is NOT to put the copyright icon on your manuscript, or next to the title in your query letter (I saw that done once - every time the title was used, it had the little "c" circle after it. Very bad.)Posted Image
Pete

Posted Image

Read Diary of a Small Fish
Read Uneasy Living

Blog - Pete Morin
Join me on Facebook

#17 Zero

Zero

    The Guardian

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 33 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Comic Book artist for High School and College Newspaper

Posted 11 November 2011 - 11:04 AM

I used to think before and I wanted to have a bunch of my work copyrighted, but if you do your research again, all your work is already protected under copyright laws the moment you create it.

Now there may be a problem if the writer is going for something way to common or mainstream, but it that was the case, the agent of course would take of that. Things change the other way if the writer is actually self publishing, then probably yes.

I wouldn't waste the 35 dollars on it, unless you think your book is going to be the next big hit, and frankly, is the agent's job to decide that.
As a writer you are also your first and most important reader. Do what you love, love what you do.

#18 patskywriter

patskywriter

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 223 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Southeast
  • Publishing Experience:Published community newspapers in Chicago for 8 years; now publishing www.durhamskywriter.com from Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    Currently working on my first nonfiction book, "And Then We Saw an Eye: Caring for a Loved-One with Alzheimer's at Home."

Posted 11 November 2011 - 12:13 PM

Here's another easy solution: Send your story as an attachment to a trusted sibling or other family member. My book is first person/nonfiction, so I'm not worried—however, if I were, I'd go ahead and email it to my sister in Chicago. Come to think of it, I have sent her what I have so that she could tell me how I'm doing so far. :smile:
Published community newspapers in Chicago for 8 years; now publishing www.durhamskywriter.com.

Currently working on my first nonfiction book, "And Then We Saw an Eye: Caring for a Loved-One with Alzheimer's at Home."

#19 Pete Morin

Pete Morin

    Nut Cracker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,469 posts
  • Literary Status:agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Some shorts published in obscure anthologies.
    Diary of a Small Fish, a first little piggy heading to market.

Posted 11 November 2011 - 01:00 PM

To clarify:

1. The so-called "poor man's copyright" (aka, the "mailbox rule") is no longer necessary with the advent of word files that record the document date - but it doesn't hurt.

2. Your copyright to an unregistered manuscript does not give you full protection in the event that someone infringes it. The copyright law provides that in order for you to be eligible for the full protection of the statute, you must register the work. What "full protections" do I mean? The right to collect attorneys fees and statutory damages (rather than having to prove lost profits) form the infringer.

The benefit of the latter can be illustrated her:

Someone cribs your unregistered manuscript and puts it up on Amazon under a pseudonym (this has happened), and sells 50 copies. You have to pay a lawyer to sue, and you total damages are the profit in 50 books - although you will be able to enjoin its further sale.

Someone cribs your registered manuscript and does the same thing. You sue, win, and the infringer is liable (automatically) for your attorneys fees PLUS statutory damages of up to $150,000. Regardless of how many copies were sold.


So understand, there is a BIG difference between you having a "copyright" and having access to the statutory remedies of the copyright law.

(Why do they do this? To encourage registration.)

None of this is to suggest that copyrighting is necessary before sending a full to an agent.


Note: My agent just told me of this situation: She delivered a full treatment and first 3 chapters of a novel to an editor at a big house. Six months later, a debut novelist published a novel identical to the treatment, even using the same names. When asked where she came up with the idea, she said, "my publisher gave it to me."

Editors are different from agents!
Pete

Posted Image

Read Diary of a Small Fish
Read Uneasy Living

Blog - Pete Morin
Join me on Facebook

#20 Joey

Joey

    Owner of an Evil Little Manuscript

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,176 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS South
  • Publishing Experience:Newspaper articles in hometown newspaper on medicine and specialty insurance topics. Stop by my blog where refreshing iced is served after swift, verbal punches are thrown.

Posted 13 November 2011 - 11:10 PM

What comes to mind when I read this thread is the bruhaha that started after Davinci Codebecame popular, and how the concept was supposedly stolen from another novel (was it called royal blood?).

Maybe that might be a good $35 to spend for peace of mind.

Visit my blog! www.joeyfrancisco.blogspot.com

JoeynGA on Twitter!

 

 

 

"Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

 

 

 

 

~Mark Twain

 





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users